Charter boat ordinance tabled again in Biloxi

Dustin Trochesset voices his opinion at the city council workshop
Dustin Trochesset voices his opinion at the city council workshop

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Biloxi Small Craft Harbor has been at the center of a debate for weeks. Should people be allowed to run a charter business using the boat launch if they don't rent a boat slip?

That's what the city council discussed in a special workshop on Tuesday evening in hopes of forming an answer.

"I paid for the right to run a business there, and there's a lot of people who are doing it for free," said Dustin Trochesset.

Trochesset is a third generation charter boat captain. His company, Big Fish Charters, pays for a spot at The Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, which covers the use of fish cleaning tables and other provided amenities.

Trochesset said those who don't pay for boat slips are taking away from his business and should be regulated. Councilman Kenny Glavan said it's not as easy as it sounds.

"It's a public launch, and if they're in compliance with the law, they should be allowed to launch," said Glavan.

Trochesset suggests trying other public launches, such as the Kuhn Street Boat Ramp just east of the small craft harbor.

He says he has to show proof of insurance to run his business out of the harbor. Those regulations don't exist for businesses that don't rent, so he thinks they should go elsewhere.

"If somebody slips getting off my boat, I have insurance for that. If somebody slips getting off the boat at the boat launch, I'm guessing the city is going to have to pay for that. The taxpayers, I'll probably be paying for it in a different way," said Trochesset.

That's one of the reasons the city council decided to table the vote for another week to give the city attorney time to rewrite the ordinance.

"Now we've got to look at it legal. The way we can write it to pertain to the people, to protect the people inside the harbor and the City of Biloxi," said Councilman George Lawrence.

Once an ordinance is in place, the city will still have another issue to deal with.

"Say we set up anything, and then we're going to have to be able to enforce it," said Lawrence.

The ordinance should be on the agenda again for next week's city council meeting, but with new wording that will hopefully clear up the current issues.

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